Hail Mary, full of grace. Hail Mary, full of grace. Hail…
Hazel rubs her rosary beads between her thumb and index finger, gently at first and then harder, much harder as if the act in itself will make her recall the prayer she has known since she was a child. Russell, can you believe this? She says to no one. Oh Russell, when I need you the most…you disappointment me Russell. She calls to the air. She calls to the dust particles floating in the stale air, and the old cat riddled with tumors, purring near her feet. She sets her rosary beads next to her mother’s bible which rests on a black marbled, plastic folding table circa 1970. Water rings mark the table where Hazel’s nightly whiskey on ice with a splash of water once sat. Hazel reaches for her walker and slowly pulls it towards her, clipping the cat’s tail. The cat doesn’t seem to mind her carelessness, stares up at her lovingly, and quickly falls back asleep.
Hazel’s body is now turning against her, every step is a chance and yet she makes her way into the kitchen. Just as determined now, as she was playing basketball many decades ago. Hazel stands at the counter hoping her knees won’t buckle or her legs betray her before she gets a chance to smell the apple cake her daughter left behind. A peace-offering, a gesture of love, whatever her daughter tells herself to rationalize making decisions about Hazel’s life without much input from Hazel.
She inhales the cake deeply allowing the cinnamon, nutmeg and baked apples to fill her where she feels empty. Hazels thinks of a fork. Fork to cake, cake to mouth. Chew. Swallow. Easy enough, and yet, Hazel’s hand fails to make the connection to the fork. She plunges her long, skeletal finger into the cake. It feels good being inside that cake, a bit of a relief having part of her body encased in something else. Hazel pulls her finger out, grabs a chunk cake with her arthritic right hand, and free throws it into the cat’s bowl. One point, she thinks.
Hazel’s legs feel weaker. She must sit before she falls. So, she slowly makes her way back to the living room, the cat just steps behind her, and plunks down into her chair, with bone-weary breath. An old western plays in the background, like a friend carrying on with a conversation long after your mind has drifted elsewhere. The western doesn’t reach Hazel, but the sound is comforting. Hazel closes her eyes. Rests.
Not today, Russell? She asks to no one. Then when, Russell? She asks to to the air. She asks to the dust particles floating in the stale air, and the old cat riddled with tumors, purring near her feet.
Apple Cider Doughnut Cake
Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 + 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 + 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 + 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup apple cider
3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 unsweetened apple butter (store-bought or homemade)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs at room temperature
Ingredients for topping:
1/4 cup raw sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
Pre-heat the oven to 350F. Generously butter and flour a 12 cup Bundt pan and set aside. Grab a large bowl and add the flours, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, baking soda, and salt. Whisk together until combined. Set aside. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together sugar, apple cider, oil, apple butter, vanilla, and eggs. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk until well combined. Pour batter (it will be thick) into prepared pan, spreading the mixture evenly with a spatula.
Bake for about 50 minutes (check at 45 minutes), rotating the pan halfway through until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Transfer pan to a wire rack set inside a baking sheet and allow to cool for 15 minutes. While cake is cooling, melt butter. In a small bowl mix together raw sugar and cinnamon. Invert cake onto wire rack. Brush cake with melted butter and then sprinkle sugar/cinnamon all over the top of the cake. Serve and enjoy!
*Cake can be stored, covered, at room temperature for up to two days.*
5 Unique Fall Desserts
Looking for the best of two sweet worlds in one pie? Check out Food & Wine’s apple cider cream pie.
Apple pie in cookie form? Yes! Head to An Italian In My Kitchen for the recipe.
Celebrating a fall birthday soon? Head to Adventures in Cooking and make Eva’sapple spice cake with salted caramel frosting.
There is nothing I love more in the fall than apple crisp with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream and then I stumbled on this recipe. Yes, please!
I am from New England and yet I have never made a New England Apple Cider Cake. A Family Feast’s recipe is now on my must make list. Check it out!